After my Podcast interview with Pamela Kwiatkowski of Goose Insurance, I was so impressed with her knowledge that I asked if she would provide some Travel Tips for a Blog. Well deliver she did. I personally believe that everyone should consider these tips prior to every trip.
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The land border between the US and Canada is finally opening on November 8th, 2021. Many Canadians are excited to get south for the winter or simply cross the border for some Christmas shopping or visit family and friends.
However, taking a trip is a bit different as COVID 19 has added a new complexity to travel.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a seamless, worry - free trip!
1. Vaccination requirements.
Vaccines are now widely available, safe, effective and reduce your risk of severe illness. In order to enter the US, Canadians must be fully vaccinated.
People are considered fully vaccinated if they meet the following requirements:
- Received a FDA authorized / approved COVID-19 vaccine: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech, or
- Received a WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine: Oxford-AstraZeneca / Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-does series, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine
Currently, the CDC doesn’t recognize mixed COVID-19 vaccines and hasn’t said yet if travelers with two different doses will be blocked from entry when the vaccine requirement kicks in.
2. Upload proof of vaccination in the ArriveCAN app.
ArriveCan is mandatory to provide essential travel information before and after your re-entry into Canada. Information must be submitted 72 hours prior to your arrival and if information is not submitted you won’t be eligible for the fully vaccinated traveler exemption, and you may be subject to delays, fines or enforcement action. Download the app here.
3. Ensure you’ll be able to obtain a COVID-19 molecular test at your destination before returning to Canada.
All travelers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status must provide proof of a COVID-19 negative molecular test result to enter Canada. The accepted molecular tests include: PCR (Polymerase chain reaction), NAT (Nucleic acid test), NAAT (Nucleic acid amplification test), RTLAMP (Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification. Antigen tests are not accepted. They must be taken in the United states within 72 hours of your planned entry into Canada. Proof must include: traveler name and date of birth, name and civic address of the laboratory / clinic / facility / that administered the test, the date on which the test was conducted, the type of test conducted, and the test result.
4. Buy Travel Emergency Medical Insurance.
Travel insurance is intended to cover medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight accident and other accidental losses incurred while travelling outside of your country. Usually, you buy it to cover the exact duration of the trip, but not all policies are the same. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when choosing a provider and purchasing a policy:
a. The coverage amount. For your trip, you want to ensure you have at least $2 million in coverage.
b. Answer your questions accurately. Remember that insurers will verify much of the information you give them through sources, and incorrect or false information can be all the reason to void your claim.
c. Check for exclusions in the policy wordings. Some of the things you want to look for in your policy wording are pre-existing conditions, sports exclusions, policy extensions, destinations, COVID-19 and the length of your trip.
d. Make sure your policy covers air ambulances. Emergency air travel can be very expensive. In Canada alone, out-of-province air ambulances could cost $2,700 an hour and nearly $3,00 per hour in Quebec.
e. The Policy will pay providers directly.
f. Have your policy with you.
5. Buy a policy that covers COVID-19 specifically.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is continuing to advise travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada. The level 3 advisory prevents claims being made with regular Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation and Interruption due to COVID-19 reasons. New variants of concern have been identified and are circulating in the United States. When looking for a policy, ensure that it includes coverage for Trip Cancellation / Interruption, quarantine coverage, provisions to extend coverage, and Emergency Medical all due to COVID-19 reasons.
6. Bring extra medication.
When traveling with medication, pack all prescriptions in your carry-on baggage and in their original, labelled packaging as it must be facilitated in airport security and customs screening. Especially due to the pandemic, It is more important than ever to pack an additional supply of medication in case you are away for longer than expected. Finally, ensure you are only carrying international generic drug prescriptions. It must be legal and readily available in the country you intend to visit, you can confirm this by contacting the foreign government office in Canada of the country you plan to visit.
7. Check with your doctor prior to departure.
It is critical to ensure you are clear to travel if you have an existing, were recently diagnosed or treated for chronic condition.
8. Check global entry requirements.
Most countries require proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, followed by an additional COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival and a 14 day self isolation. However, every country has different prerequisites. Here is a link to the Government of Canada's page regarding COVID-19: travel, testing, quarantine and borders. Don’t forget, global entry requirements can change without notice, so if you are planning to travel, it is crucial to check with your destination's restrictions and get the latest information. If you are unsure at any time, contact your destination’s embassy with Canada.
9. Plan ahead of time.
The booming post-pandemic travel industry doesn’t allow you to plan last-minute. Planning weeks and even months in advance for important pieces of your trip (hotels, rental car, etc.) is crucial and can actually get you the best deals for things like flights and rooms. Plan alternative trips in case traffic or weather makes road conditions unbearable when driving by car. Also ensure you share your route plan with a trusted person who will not be traveling with you, should something happen. When flying, ensure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time for checked bags and COVID-19 requirements. For larger families, this step is especially crucial to book hotel rooms with enough beds for everyone.
10. Pack a travel health kit.
A travel health includes basic first aid items, medications, contact card, proof of insurance coverage, copy of immunization record, and documentation of other pre-existing medical conditions. Here is a link to a travel health checklist recommended by the government of Canada. And don’t forget a supply of clean disposable masks!
11. Pack snacks and bring an empty water bottle.
A common goal when traveling is to try and eat healthy, but it never happens. Whether you are traveling for work, leisure or both, it’s a good idea to bring snacks so you don’t get hangry. Here are the best healthy travel snacks, just make sure you can legally bring them if you are traveling internationally. Another tip to save money is to bring an empty water bottle. Once you are through security, fill up your water bottle and save some serious money rather than buying bottles at the airport.
12. Smile and remember travel safe, travel smart, and travel insured.